As firms anticipate increased deal flow, legal job market sh

Published: Jun 07, 2010


Legal job market shows slight gains

Much of the coverage of the U.S. Labor Department’s May 2010 employment report has focused on the “weak” growth in the private sector (of the 431,000 jobs created, 411,000 represent temporary Census workers hired by the government). But within the legal sector, there is some cause for hope. Last month, the legal industry gained 300 jobs, as reported by AmLawDaily based on numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compare that to the 1,100 jobs lost in April, and one can understand the WSJ Law Blog’s spin on the story (Happy Days Here Again? Legal Sector, Yes, Adds Jobs in May).

Nevertheless, there’s still good reason for skepticism or at least cautious optimism. The legal market won 300 jobs in May, yes; but it has lost 400 jobs since March. And in the last year, AmLaw reports, 22,200 legal jobs have vanished. That said, of course, it’s a relief to see some gains at last, and we can only hope that the trend continues.

Increase in transactional work on the horizon

In other moderately encouraging news, despite the UK prime minister’s dire economic predictions (Cameron Prepares U.K. for Cuts Hurting ‘Every Single Person’) at least one top UK law firm clearly anticipates an increase in business. Earlier this spring, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer announced its “Fresh Work” scheme, through which it will tap into the firm’s alumni network for short-term or part-time help to handle overflows in transactional work. And today, The Lawyer reports that Freshfields plans to set up an informal referral framework in expectation of this uptick in deal flow.

The Magic Circle firm is reportedly in discussions with two or three other British firms, including TLT Solicitors, with whom it would partner for ad hoc referrals. Freshfields London managing partner Tim Jones explained to The Lawyer, “It’s part of planning for the upturn. We want to know that, if and when we have more demand, we have places to go where there are people we know.”

- posted by vera